The winning shoe of John Chung, owner of shoe shine bar Mason & Smith in Singapore.

Here’s another documentary about another of the world champions in shoe shining, 2018 champion John Chung from Singapore. It’s made by the Malaysian/Singaporean channel Astro AEC and is a nice portrait of the successful shoe shiner.


A few weeks ago I wrote about a long documentary made by Japanese public service about Yuya Hasegawa, the first world champion in shoe shining. This time it’s the second world champion that is featured. The documentary has been aired on prime time both in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. It’s about 25 minutes, the documentary team has followed John Chung for quite some time. John founded the first shoe shine bar in Singapore in 2013, Mason & Smith, which nowadays also makes shoe repairs and sell shoes, as well as hosting a number of small shoe events and shoe shining schools.

World champion in shoe shining 2018 John Chung (to the left), together with Sergio Barange from Saphir.

World champion in shoe shining 2018 John Chung (to the left), together with Sergio Barange from Saphir.

The documentary gives a personal portrait of John Chung. Everything from how was inspired to start his own business selling second hand shoes on a market in Singapore, after travelling in Asia seeing this done in various countries. It wasn’t really a success, and since he needed to make money somehow, he started the first shoe shine service in Singapore. He then was invited to have his shoe shine service at a luxury hotel area in Singapore, where things took off and he made a lot more money. He then was able to set up his own shoe shine bar, Mason & Smith, which has grown into a successful business.

The documentary also tells about how he aims at becoming a bespoke shoemaker, and has trained in both Hong Kong and Japan, but put that on hold after he won the world championships in shoe shining 2018, since it opened up many new opportunities for his shoe shine business. It’s quite heartwarming for me as organiser of the contest to hear how people’s attitude to his work as a shoe shiner changed after he won the world champs title, from a sceptical view to being marvelled by his success.

Watch the documentary below (English subtitles):